As a singer/songwriter and storyteller I've done hundreds of assemblies and family concerts at schools throughout the Northeast. Most of them were presented by PTA or PTO volunteers from the Cultural Enrichment Committee. Not all of them were well organized or well attended. Oh the tales I could tell...Do you have a moment? Pull up a chair while I share some tips to save you some time and frustration and ensure the success of your next family concert.
1. Serve Food! Ideally, serve a simple dinner (pizza seems to be the favorite) followed by the performance. Hold dessert until after the performance. Warning: Serving food during the show is distracting! By holding dessert until the end you also guarantee that most people will stay for the entire event.
2. Encourage children and parents to sit together. This avoids two problems: First, misbehavior by kids who are out of their parents reach and secondly, parents standing in the back and yacking...
3. Use the occasion to kick off or culminate a reading marathon or other school project. Give out awards, or prizes for most books read or least amount of TV watched or best writing. Have art or projects on display. In other words stack the reasons for the kids and parents to be there. One Caution: Avoid handing out hundreds of certificates individually! This takes too long and wears an audience out. Another idea here is to ask the performer if he or she would be willing to MC the awards part of the program. that way you have an experienced person behind the mike.
4. Find an experienced solo performer or group who can provide enough content so that the concert is a step above "mere entertainment", yet is engaging and interactive for children as well as adults. A good storyteller can assist an audience of diverse ages and backgrounds to totally forget everything except the tale. In my own experience I've found storytelling combined with music to be a tremendously successful combination. When I added drums and audience participation it moved it to an entirely new level.
5. Get Help! Don't try to do this all by yourself! Learn to delegate.
6. Let the local news media know about your event at least 3 weeks before hand. In addition, since most newspapers depend on future generations of readers, it's in their interest to sponsor your event! Ask them for their support! Then, if they say no, ask them to at least donate some advertising space.
7. Use the School PR machinery. Make sure your event is mentioned in the schools daily announcements. Send home an entire series of flyers (not just one). Put up posters around the school. Have a count down or a build up to your event.
8. Put at least one large sandwich board out in front of the school or in the community with the basic info in big letters.
9. Sell (or give away) tickets: Even if the point of your event is not primarily as a fund-raiser, selling tickets even for a dollar or two commits people more. It also gives you an idea of how many are coming. If you offer a prize to one of the lucky ticket holders, you add to the draw.
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